I hate typying those three letters: DNF. I'm not sure which is worse, DNF or DNS (last month's race). I'm going with DNF. I think it hurts more to show up for a race, toe the line and not get to finish it.
I got up Saturday morning at 6 AM to make the hour-long train ride to Tarrytown (the next town over). I claimed my number and chatted with a couple of nice folks. This was a small race which was fantastic compared to the thousands that show up for the races I usually compete in in the city. I was very excited about doing this race, although, admittedly, I was treating it as a sort of training run because of my recent calf injury. So I felt pretty relaxed going into this; no butterflies.
The week leading up to race day I rested my calf, as in no running, and had ART on it on Thursday. It felt good on Friday, but I kind of knew in the back of my mind that that amounted to a hill of beans. Last Sunday I had no pain, in fact, I didnt even know my calf was jacked up until I started running and was halted 10 minutes in because the pain was so bad.
Back to race day. Michelle gave me a plan to ready my calf for the miles ahead: some eccentric calf raises (or dips, as it were), massage some bio freeze in, cover with a compression sleeve and do 5-10 minutes very easy warm up; check, check and check. Just at the end of my warm up was a very small, rather negligible, incline. When I hit that (softly, gently), Bam! There was the pain. Shit! Shit! Shit! What do I do? What do I do? In my mind I'm panicking, I can't pull out now, it hasn't even started. Ok, just walk around, take it easy. They started gathering everyone for the start and I figured, ok, let's just see, if it really hurts, I'll stop.
I asked Michelle ahead of time what I should do if I felt it, stupid question, I know, but I needed assurance that if I had to bag this race that someone else would agree with that decision. Who better than my coach?
The gun (horn, really) went off and we were running. I took it very slowly. Easy, easy....I felt it a little, but not bad, maybe I could run it off (who am I kidding?). Then we came to a slight downhill and the pain was there. So bad that I had to limp/run. I probably had not gone even 1 mile, but I knew it was over. I hit the porta potty and walked back to the start. A very inglorious end to my morning. It was like the walk of shame; I was so embarrassed. A few runners inquired if I was ok and a volunteer asked if I needed assistance back to the start. I declined, but my eyes were welling up and I was trying to keep it together. It was so hard to see the runners moving away and hear people cheering. Tears just started streaming down my face. I won't lie, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself. I didn't want to, but I've been holding it in for so long, trying not to feel like 'poor me', so I gave myself permission to feel really sorry for myself, especially since no one was there to witness it. I figured, at the very least, it would be a release, maybe a bit cathartic. It sounded convincing enough in my own head.
So far $58 in lost race fees (two races) with another a few weeks away. Now, when I can least afford it and am trying to figure out how to pay for the big ones that matter. I really am so mad at myself. I have no one to blame but myself for this calf situation. Just when you think you know what 'gradual', 'easy', 'slow' means....I go out in vibrams for 20 minutes (one time!) in an effort to get on the road to helping my ITBS and instead I eff up my calf; touché irony!
It's funny, I sometimes think, "ok, let's just pack it in for awhile. No training, no nothing, just let my body get back to zero and start over", but I know I can't and I know that that isn't necessarily the answer. I've come too far to stop now. Just the fact that I've missed a 'long run' has my head spinning. It's funny where our thoughts take us. One thing I do know, it's probably not going to be a stellar race year for me. My expectations are pretty low, so I can't be anything but happy if and when I manage to finish a race. It sucks to feel like I'm settling, but any other way of thinking for me will have me flirting with long term injury if I don't. It's the only reason I stopped today before it was too late. Oh sure, I knew I'd never finish the race if I pushed on; I'd have crippled myself in the attempt, but I wouldn't have completed it. Just knowing that I needed to accept things as they are is what convinced me that going any further would be foolish.
In any case, here's to the road to recovery and a long ride tomorrow.
Please, please visit the my Cafe Press shop and buy yourself a little something (I made this logo just for you tri peeps)! All proceeds will go to the relief effort in Japan. I would also be most grateful if you could point people in this direction to help in the effort. Thank you (you know I'm going to keep hounding you, right?)